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Mareczko’s march to Giro passes through Malaysia

Mareczko’s march to Giro passes through Malaysia

21/02/2017 at 14:35Updated 21/02/2017 at 15:37

Le Tour de Langkawi is an essential next step for Italian sprinter Jakub Mareczko whose sights are firmly set on the 100th running of the Giro d’Italia.

Bolstered by unwavering support and a fresh set of legs, Polish-born, Italian sprinter Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina) spoke confidently while talking to media at the official pre-race press conference at Le Tour de Langkawi (UCI 2.HC) on Tuesday.

The 2016 under-23 UCI world road race bronze medallist has had a busy month racing on the Arabian Peninsula in the lead up to the eight-day Malaysian road race, which starts in Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday.

Mareczko, who left the six-day Tour of Oman after stage 3 to recover prior to Langkawi, makes his third straight appearance since debuting at the race in 2015 alongside since-retired cycling great Alessandro Petacchi.

Now the 22-year-old finds himself back in Malaysia under the learning tree of another Milan-San Remo winner in Filippo Pozzato, who is making his race debut to “help Jakub win” stages this week.

Jakub Mareczko is all smiles while addressing the media at the official press conference of Le Tour de Langkawi in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia on Tuesday. Photo: Mokhriz Aziz / Le Tour de Langkawi

Jakub Mareczko is all smiles while addressing the media at the official press conference of Le Tour de Langkawi in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia on Tuesday. Photo: Mokhriz Aziz / Le Tour de LangkawiEurosport

“This is the third time I have come to Langkawi and this year I have a whole team that is here for me and believes in me for the sprint,” Mareczko told Eurosport. “Pozzato, [Rafael] Andriato and [Alberto] Cecchin complete the sprint for me.

“Pozzato has so much experience because he has raced for 18 years professionally. It is so important to have him and the other guys in the front group to put me in the best position for the final.”

With a stage win from last year’s race already decorating his palmares, another would move Mareczko onto an impressive list of multi-stage winners that include Michael Matthews, Caleb Ewan, Theo Bos, Graeme Brown and all-time winner Andrea Guardini.

“The target is to do well in all the sprints and race hard for my team,” explained Mareczko, who adorned his trophy case last year with stage wins from San Luis, Turkey, Qinghai Lake and Taihu Lake. “I stopped in Oman after the third stage to rest for this race because it’s a long week and it will not be easy.”

For Mareczko, Langkawi also serves as a building block toward his ultimate goal of returning to the Giro d’Italia – a race he abandoned on stage 5 during his debut last year.

“My next race is maybe Milan-San Remo, where Pozzato will try to do good,” said Mareczko. “But my main objective is the Giro.

“This year there are only a few good stages for sprinters because the Giro is very hard,” he continued. “There’s a lot of KOMs in the first week and the field will be tough.”

However, Mareczko is no stranger to world-class competition having taken a stage win over Peter Sagan at Tour de San Luis and two over André Greipel at Tour of Turkey last season.

More recently at the Dubai Tour earlier this month, he finished third on stage 3 behind winner Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) and ahead of veterans John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Sacha Modolo (UAE Team Emirates), Juan José Lobato (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).

“I started in Dubai because there were a lot of sprinters there that I will see again at the Giro, and I came to Langkawi because the course is difficult and it will also help me prepare for my season ahead.”

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